“Have you ever had any instances of missing time?” Burt fishing for a UFO abduction? Surely not UFO abductions sooo 70’s. Satanic ritual in some clown themed day care, very 80’s but still a very popular item in some circles. ‘Course some evil clown waving his willy at me is just that sort of thing that would defiantly stick in my mind.
“Once, when I was ten.”
“I was ten. It was fall, the start of a new school year in a new school.
School bullies are nothing if not predictable. The first few weeks of school its all about establishing dominance and pecking order. And its about finding the victim or victims that give the most pleasurable tear filled surrender.
I had been watching these two boys make their rounds and I knew it would only be a matter of time before they got around to me.
So it was no surprise when their shadows blocked out the sun. I was sitting on a big tree stump with my back leaning against the school yard fence, reading.’
“You’re sitting in our spot.”
First thing a bully does, attempt to establish their ‘right’ of ownership over territory.
“It’s not ‘your’ spot. It’s a tree stump in the school yard. But, its plenty big enough, you want to sit down, I don’t mind sharing.
They didn’t want to share.
They smirked and said they were going to stomp me to the ground, and stuff dirt in my mouth.
I had seen them do this to others so it was a credible threat.
I remember sighing and carefully setting the book aside. It was a library book and I didn’t want to damage it.
Then I was sitting in one of the little blue plastic chairs outside of the principal’s office. Like a cut in a movie. Scene one, school yard, scene two hallway outside of the principal’s office. There was no dizziness no disorientation like waking from a dream. I wasn’t scared or worried just puzzled.
(How did I get here?)
I remembered the two bullies and since I was now outside the principal’s office I concluded that there had been a fight. I did a quick check of myself and I seemed undamaged. Nothing bleeding, sore or swollen, my dress wasn’t torn or even dirty enough to cause my grandmother to scold.
I could hear the two boys yarping in the office, which meant I was the one in trouble here. They always take the bad kid in last.
Normally after a fight when you are sitting around waiting for the principle of the school to lay down the heavy weight of adult disapproval you would feel a bit upset over it all. I wasn’t upset, not worried, not even interested truth be told. I was resigned to tedium. Like I was sitting through some dumb TV show I had seen about a hundred times and would be forced to watch a hundred more.
Things were winding down in the office. The door opened.
(Now) I thought to myself (The two boys will come out and act all cool like they don’t care. Til the door closes then as they walk by me they will threaten to ‘get’ me after school.)
The two boys came out. If I had gotten out of the fight without a scratch the same could certainly not be said of the two boys. One had a black eye, the other a bloody nose, both had torn shirts and one appeared to have been crying.
(wow, I did that?) and I really regretted not remembering the fight.
The door closed and the two boys sauntered by me hissing under their breath how they will get me after school. Of course threats are more effective when your not pinching your bloody nose and trying not to cry.
(They will come after me. Not today, not till next week I think, Tuesday probably maybe Wednesday. They will bring a few friends with them just to make things more fair)
(Now the door will open and the principle will say: “Miss Warren would you come in please)
The door opened and the Principle said “Miss Warren would you come in please.
It was strange but reality had become a book I had already read.
(now he will say “well Miss Warren what do you have to say for yourself?”)
“Well Miss Warren what do you have to say for yourself?” He said.
“I had been sitting with my back against the fence when the boys came up and said they were going to stomp on me and shove dirt in my mouth.” I paused not sure how to continue as I didn’t remember what had happened after that. “I stopped them from doing that,” Which seemed to be what had happened as far as I could tell.
“Girls don’t fight.” He said and frowned at me in stern disapproval.
“If someone hits them they do.” I said.
“Why didn’t you run away?”
“Because, as I said, my back was against the fence and they were in front of me. There was no place to run to.” Not that I would have run. Even as a child I considered running from bullies as an option to be taken only as a means to achieve a better fighting position. Running away only encourages bullies gives them the joy of the chase and gives them the idea that pushing people around is fun and easy which only makes it more likely that bullies will push other people around.
“Why didn’t you call for help?”
“Why would I do that when it wouldn’t do any good?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean those two boys beat up some kid just about every day. And no matter how loud the kid getting beat up yells, no ever stops those boys, no one comes to help. So since calling for help doesn’t bring help, why would I do that?”
“Ladies don’t fight.” He said like it was the eleventh commandment then added with grim disapproval. “Only a low class kind of girl would even think to make a fist.”
Up until now I had been in a strange emotionless space. It was all a TV show I had seen before and just didn’t care about. But when he said that my emotions came back in a red flare.
(How dare he? How dare he? There he sits a full grown man telling a little girl she’s bad for not laying down and letting her ass get kicked? One of those boys is half again my weight let alone two older bigger boys, you can just bet if one of those boys laid so much as a finger on him, he’dd have something to say about it. A low class kind of girl because I’m not bleeding and broken? How dare he?) If I’dd been a grown up I would have slapped his face.
And then all the anger and outrage just, went away. And that strange quite in my head returned.
(What he thinks of you doesn’t really matter now does it?) And it really didn’t.
“I’dd rather be a low class kind of girl with a nice clean face, than a lady with two black eyes and a mouthful of dirt.”
He blushed and became very interested in straightening the papers on his desk.
“I’ll let you go with a warning this time.” He said as though imparting a favor. But don’t let it happen again.”
I gathered up my books and before I closed the office door behind me I said.
“If no one hits me it wont.”
The next week, Tuesday, the two boys did try to ‘get’ me after school. They had indeed brought friends with them to even out the odds. Three of them. I led them a merry chase. I had had a few days to ready the obstacle course.
After that I became a kind of school yard gun slinger. Every once in a while a boy wanting to move up in the pack would call me out. If any one was successful in bringing on my beat down their leadership in the pack would be assured. No one ever did. The boys responded by making getting your but kicked by me an initiation rite into their little group of puppy hooligans.
I just wanted to read my library books in peace. Which I would guess is pretty much the attitude of all gun slingers.